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California legislators approve $7.6B COVID-19 package, including $600 stimulus checks

Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The $600 stimulus payments will also go to 1.2 million people who receive money from the federal supplemental security income or state supplementary payment programs, and 405,000 payments will be provided to participants in CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program. Another 15,000 payments are planned for participants in the Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.

The CalWorks payments will be placed on EBT cards and issued to participants by mid-April, although the timing could change based on the ability to automate the process, Palmer said. The timing and method of grant payments for those on SSI and SSP is still being worked out and is dependent on conversations with the federal Social Security Administration, he added.

The $600 stimulus checks for low-income residents could be enough to put food on the table for the month for a household and pay for utilities, according to Maeve Elise Brown, executive director of the advocacy group Housing and Economic Rights Advocates.

“It buys people time for us to begin to emerge from the pandemic shutdown,” Brown said. “This is $600 that could be the difference for some people between surviving or not surviving.”

The provision of the relief package that generated the most debate in legislative hearings was the proposal to provide stimulus checks for immigrants who are in the country illegally.

State Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) questioned providing the money when the state budget, while flush now, could suffer problems in the future if the COVID-19-related recession continues.

 

“This budget is going to be creating long-term obligations to the undocumented,” Nielsen said during a legislative debate.

Skinner noted that the stimulus check to immigrants is a one-time payment, not a continuing budget obligation, while state Sen. Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) said the proposal for immigrants and other low-income residents is important but does not go far enough.

“I think it’s a great step forward. It’s an acknowledgment of all these low-wage workers … that they are working hard and they have been disproportionately impacted through unemployment,” Durazo said. “I think there is room to include more who are still not covered either by our state or by the federal [programs].”

Advocates for immigrants said many would not get a stimulus check because they do not have individual taxpayer identification numbers, and noted that immigrants also cannot get unemployment benefits or federal stimulus.

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